Visiting scholars on campus are required to comply with a number of complex regulations in order to remain legally in status while in the U.S.  The federal SEVIS system generates required documents, monitors compliance and processes requests for visa benefits. The most important requirements are explained briefly below. We encourage you to always direct scholars to OIP (Office of International Programs, 400 Culbertson Hall, x4031) for advising on these important issues, and we welcome your questions as well.


  • Scholars can be admitted to the U.S. for up to 5 years. Short-term scholars are limited to 6 months.
  • MSU is authorized to invite Researchers, Short-term scholars, Specialists or Professors/Teachers.
  • Participants in the Professor category are eligible only for non-tenured positions.
  • Visiting scholars MUST carry insurance for the entire duration of their stay in the U.S.
  • There are financial requirements for support of an Exchange Visitor; OIP will explain the details.
  • The grace period for J-1 scholars is 30 days after the end of their program.
  • The spouse of a J-1 scholar can apply for permission to work, and is allowed to work only after she/he receives the Employment Authorization Document card (application processing takes several months).

Social Security Number

  • A scholar needs to have a letter of employment to apply for a SSN.
  • A new scholar has to wait 10 working days after arrival in the U.S. before applying at the Social Security Office.
  • All paperwork has to be issued through OIP; the SSN is issued approximately 2 weeks after application.


  • All foreign scholars who earn U.S. wages are required to file tax returns every year. Free tax assistance is organized on campus every year in the spring.



  • The U.S. visa stamp in the passport is an entry document only; a scholar can stay in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as his/her DS-2019 form is kept up to date and he/she is maintaining legal status.
  • However, if the scholar is going to travel outside of the U.S. and his/her visa has expired, he/she will have to apply for a new visa in order to re-enter the U.S.
  • Before traveling, OIP needs to sign DS-2019 form.  This signature confirms that the scholar is in status, fully enrolled and eligible to return to MSU.
  • At the end of their program, the J-1 scholar has a 30 day “grace period,” allowing him/her to stay and travel in the U.S.